Deferred Adjudication Definition

A deferred adjudication is a type of probation, under which the defendant will be on probation for a period of time as determined by a presiding judge. Once the defendant has entered a plea of “guilty” or “no contest,” he or she will be eligible for a deferred sentence as opposed to the finding of guilt. Every state has different terms and conditions related to deferred adjudication and what it can be applied to, although most consider a satisfied period of deferred adjudication to also mean a lack of a conviction. Criminal background checks performed for those who have entered deferred adjudication will reflect an arrest, but not a conviction, even after the period has been completed.

Individuals who violate the terms of their deferred adjudication probationary period will be subject to the maximum sentencing of their criminal charges. It is also possible for a deferred adjudication to be terminated prematurely if it is decided by the presiding judge. Deferred adjudications can be extended to those who have committed felony crimes, although it cannot be handed down in cases where a defendant has been accused of a DUI.

Separating Deferred Adjudication from Probation

In a case of deferred adjudication, the defendant has not been found guilty, and upon completion of the probationary period will not be found guilty as well. This means that their arrest record will not reflect a conviction, which includes conviction of a felony. A probation, on the other hand, is most typically granted after the defendant has been found guilty, convicted, and sentenced. Although both types of legal rulings have the outcome of an expectation of the defendant after the trial has taken place, the deferred adjudication makes it possible to have the record expunged through a petition of non-disclosure.

Additionally, those who have received the deferred adjudication ruling will not be subject to some of the punishments that can occur with a conviction relevant to the crime of which they are accused. As an example, in certain states a defendant may lose his or her drivers license if they are convicted of a drug-related offense. This may also relate to child custody, property ownership, and certain travel privileges in relation to other countries, although these terms are outlined during the deferred adjudication decision. Those with a deferred adjudication are still probhited from owning or purchasing firearms in most states.